In a bid to unblock Croatia’s progress in European Union accession talks, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has urged it and its neighbour Slovenia to make further efforts to resolve a 17-year-old land and sea border dispute.
EU member since 2004 Slovenia is blocking candidate Croatia from opening and closing several negotiating chapters.
After talks with top Croat officials, Frattini said the EU should act as a broker in securing agreement which would allow Zagreb to conclude accession talks this year, and join the EU in 2010.
Frattini said: “I’m talking about a facilitator role for the EU, but the European Union shouldn’t take either government’s place in negotiations, which obviously must continue.”
Slovenia’s Prime Minister Borut Pahor, however, has said he is not optimistic about a fast solution, “unless something changes.” He held out little hope that a scheduled meeting of Croat and EU officials in February would bear fruit.